PHOTOS: Site of Unforgetting Opening Reception, curated by Banyi Huang

Featuring performance of Like a Roll of Heavy Waters

A realization of John Cage's __ , __ Circus On __, with graphic score by Vered Engelhard

AUGUST 19, 2018


Notes on my sound art piece included in the exhibition:


TITLE: What’s underfoot


MEDIUM: Audio fixed media




BLURB: Dan Schreiner’s What’s underfoot experiments with field recordings taken inside School 12 and found texts recorded by the artist. The texts distill and distort anonymous comments left beneath a 2011 online article reporting the soon-to-be demolition of School 6 in Yonkers. Applied to School 12, currently being repurposed and revitalized, these texts evoke the nostalgic power of history - both specific and universal - and how the building's current state between imagined past and possible future(s) create a sense of suspension and timelessness. 

Notes on the score, by Vered Engelhard:


This piece is an interpretation of John Cage’s __ , __ Circus on __ , a score he used for Roaratorio, An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake, a composition based off of James Joyce’s book. The score encourages others to do different versions of this composition with other books and my choice is The Waves by Virginia Woolf. While in Cage’s case, the score has a reading component as well as a recording component; this score has, in the spirit of Woolf, instead of recording, an improvisation component.


The reading component is based off of a script that Cage instructs be made out of citations from the book broken down in mesostics, using, in this case, the title of the book as its vertical skeleton. A quite extensive series of chance operations leads to the re-distribution of punctuation on the script. The page and line numbers corresponding specific phrases in the script become the ruler for the length of the score. The vertical series of page numbers, indicators of the ‘mass’ of language on the page, become the horizontal distance of the score, hence delineating the space for the performers’ movement. The movement itself –as interpenetration of sounds and people in space- is what gives measure to the music.


In this adaptation of __, __ Circus on __ , the composition itself becomes what I call an “expanded score,” which, citing Cage, “turn[s] itself to” The Waves, and “away from music itself.” Yet the expanded score by virtue of becoming spatial, functions like immersive notation, an environment for improvisation that allows the music to turn itself back to The Waves. Thus live the waves, thus live we who exercise will. The composition is for voice, water and wind instruments.


The Waves expresses a connected stream of consciousness of six characters: Bernard, Jinny, Louis, Neville, Rhoda and Susan. While a stream, the movement still revolves are around a central character, Percival, who acquires meaning by absence. Percival, like a stone in a river, is only brushed on, and slowly shaped. He is talked about, but we never get access to his own stream. A recurring scene is the meeting of the six characters in a restaurant waiting for Percival to arrive. The revolving door keeps spinning, but he never makes it. Later, the readers learn he had passed, and that this desire of them was an impossible desire. Yet the very movement of desiring made him already present.


Percival here will be represented by a piano located outside of the main performing space. The performer of this role will read only a matrix off of which the entire score is composed and play intermittently from outside of the room. Like when communicating with the dead, this performer will be the outside-inside breaker, not within or outside the frame of the composition but perhaps the frame itself.

Check out this Wall Street Journal article on my recent house concert, organized through Artery:
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